Little Bits of History

Fighting for Florida

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 28, 2015


December 28, 1835: US forces under Major Francis Dade face Seminole Indians under the command of Micanopy. Dade’s forces numbered 110 men from the 2nd Artillery, 3rd Artillery, and 4th Infantry Regiments. They had one six-pounder gun at their disposal. Micanopy led 180 men. Dade’s men had traveled from Fort Brooke which was located where present-day Tampa is and headed up King Highway to reinforce and resupply Fort King, which was located at present-day Ocala. The region’s Native population had become increasingly upset with US forces which were continually trying to relocated the natives in order to usurp control of the land. Rather than be shipped out west, the Seminoles chose to fight to save their homelands.

Dade was aware that his men might be attacked by Seminoles, but thought it would take place near a river crossing or near more heavily forested land to the south. He had already managed to traverse these areas and was feeling safer. The local terrain could not conceal anyone who was standing or walking. However, it could and did conceal crouched warriors who were able to ambush the US forces. There had been better locations for an ambush, but the Seminole were waiting for Osceola to join them. When he did not appear as scheduled, they attacked without hm.

The Seminole had been watching the US forces move through Florida. They had been marching for five days when they reached what is today, Bushnell, about 25 miles south of Fort King. Suddenly, shots were fired. Stories of the event tell that Dade and half his men were brought down with the first volley. Micanopy was said to have killed Dade with the first shot fired, which was the prearranged sign for the rest of the men to begin their assault. Most of the soldiers were killed quickly and did not even have time to pull their flintlock muskets from under their coats. The Seminoles were victorious and had killed 107 men and wounded two more (one of which died later). They lost three men and five more were wounded.

After the battle, many of the large plantations in the region were burned and the settlers killed. By the end of the month, there was only one house left standing in what is now Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The Seminoles were emboldened and continued to fight for their lands. This attack led to the Second Seminole War which lasted until 1842. The War found Andrew Jackson in charge against Osceola with his vastly undermanned army. The US forces won and the Seminole were evicted with nearly 4,000 Seminole relocated to Indian Territory and only 300 left in the Everglades.

We had been preparing for this more than a year… Just as the day was breaking, we moved out of the swamp into the pine-barren.

I counted, by direction of Jumper, one hundred and eighty warriors. Upon approaching the road, each man chose his position on the west side… About nine o’clock in the morning the command approached… So soon as all the soldiers were opposite… Jumper gave the whoop, Micanopy fired the first rifle, the signal agreed upon, when every Indian arose and fired, which laid upon the ground, dead, more than half the white men.

The cannon was discharged several times, but the men who loaded it were shot down as soon as the smoke cleared away… As we were returning to the swamp supposing all were dead, an Indian came up and said the white men were building a fort of logs. Jumper and myself, with ten warriors, returned.

As we approached, we saw six men behind two logs placed one above another, with the cannon a short distance off… We soon came near, as the balls went over us. They had guns, but no powder, we looked in the boxes afterwards and found they were empty. – Seminole leader Halpatter Tustenuggee, aka Alligator (by white men)

Also on this day: Child’s Play – In 1973, Akron, Ohio stopped their association with Box Car Derby after cheating became rampant.
Neptune – In 1612, Galileo observed the planet Neptune.
Poor Ben – In 1732, an ad for Poor Richard’s Almanack was run in Ben Franklin’s newspaper.
San Francisco Muni – In 1912, the Municipal Railroad in San Francisco opened.
Ex-Vice President – In 1832, John C. Calhoun resigned.

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